New Year’s traditionally is a time for resolutions. As 2014 opens, we’d like to suggest a few issues that state and local residents should resolve to keep an eye on in the coming year.
The city of Lawrence has a number of irons in the fire that will require considerable attention and taxpayer investment in 2014. City and Lawrence Police Department officials have started looking for potential sites for a new police headquarters. Reuniting the police department under one roof is a desirable goal, but taxpayers will want to monitor plans for funding the estimated $24 million facility to make sure they are getting their money’s worth.
Lawrence taxpayers can look forward to the opening of the new Lawrence Public Library next summer as well as new development at VenturePark, the city’s new business development on the former Farmland property on the east edge of the city.
We hope work goes smoothly on the eastern leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway. The connection to Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence and the addition of an interchange at Bob Billings Parkway will open important new access points to the city.
Construction also is on the fast track to complete the Rock Chalk Park sports complex and the city’s new recreation center in northwest Lawrence by summer. What a gift it would be if that project could be completed without further controversy about the developer following the city’s planning directives.
We hope Kansas University will be able to get past its social media controversy and get on to more important matters, including efforts to better carry KU’s story to state legislators. A definite bright spot for the school will be the start of construction for a new home for the School of Business, which officials hope will be completed in time for the 2015-16 school year.
How K-12 public schools in Kansas will be funded probably is the top issue facing the state this year. State legislators are awaiting a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that likely will set the terms for this debate. We urge lawmakers to consider not just their minimum obligation to fund Kansas schools but the importance of education to the future of the state and its residents.
Legislators also may consider some way to use federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage for vulnerable Kansas residents. Their deliberations should be marked both by practicality and compassion.
Toward the end of 2014, Kansans will be going to the polls to decide key races for statewide offices, congressional seats and the Kansas House. We hope by the time August primaries roll around, that all Kansans who have attempted to register to vote will actually be registered to vote, and the state no longer will have a list of 19,000 Kansans whose registrations are being held up for lack of citizenship confirmation.
These are just a few of the foreseeable issues that will face Lawrence and the state in the coming year. Many other challenges surely lie ahead. We hope 2014 brings progress to our community, as well as health and happiness to its residents.
Happy New Year.